Friday, April 9, 2010

AMERICAN

Metro Milwaukee Dining Guide

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American Serb Hall

5101 W. Oklahoma Ave.

The Friday fish fry at Serb Hall is more than a meal—it’s an event. Whether you’re chowing down on deep-fried cod, baked cod, perch, pollock, shrimp, chicken or Serb Hall’s specialty, spicy Serbian baked fish, you’ll take home memories as well as a doggie bag. For those pressed for time, use the convenient drive-through. (L.K.) $. CC: VS, MC. FB. 545-6030

Astor Street Restaurant

924 E. Juneau Ave.

Astor Street’s contemporary American menu features a mix of chicken, seafood, pasta and certified Angus steaks. Their numerous specials include the Chicken Astor, a sautéed breast with sun-dried tomatoes and garlic fresh basil. Open six days a week, Astor Street offers a semi-formal dining experience for couples, business professionals and families. (J.D.) $$$. CC: All major. RS, SB, FF, FB. Handicap access. 278-8660

Bella’s Fat Cat

2737 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 747-9746

2974 N. Oakland Ave., 431-8480

A pleasant contemporary spin on 1950s-era diners, Bella’s serves burgers with a profusion of toppings, fries, creamy malts and shakes (plus contemporary options such as turkey and veggie burgers) in a bright, airy atmosphere of linoleum, chrome and naugahyde. It’s a fun place for families and for catching a quick bite. (D.L.) $. CC: All major.

Buck Bradley’s

1019 N. Old World Third St.

A saloon with 1890s charm, the dining room serves sandwiches, salads and dinner entrees. Steaks are exceptional—especially the Sicilian tenderloin. Other choices include pastas and seafood. (J.B.) $$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. OD, DS, FF, FB. 224-8500

Cafe at the Plaza

1007 N. Cass St.

This wonderful art deco diner, tucked inside the Plaza Hotel, serves breakfast all day, along with a menu of soup, salads, burgers and sandwiches. The courtyard in the back provides the ultimate in outdoor, urban dining during the summer. (D.L.) $. CC: MC, VS. FF, OD. 272-0515

Chubby’s Cheesesteaks

2232 N. Oakland Ave.

Many restaurants claim to serve Philly cheesesteaks yet few prepare them as they should. The rules are simple. Begin with a soft roll, not a baguette. The beef is not sliced but chopped and heated on a grill. Onions and green peppers are optional, and the preferred cheese is Cheez Whiz, although provolone and American are common substitutes. Chubby’s uses a soft roll from Sciortino’s with fried onions and a gooey mesh of cheese. (J.B.) $. 287-9999

Comet Café

1947 N. Farwell Ave.

This coffee shop turned bar/restaurant now serves much more than caffeinated drinks, including breakfast until 3 p.m., sandwiches and standard fare such as meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Field Roast Grain Meats, a vegan meat substitute, can be exchanged for almost anything for $1 extra. Daily dinner specials include pasta and meatballs, chicken fried steak, and pot roast. (K.N.) $-$$ CC: VS, MC, AmEx, DS. FF, SB, FB, OD. Handicap access. 273-7677

Eddie Martini’s

8612 Watertown Plank Road

Just before the renaissance in Milwaukee dining began in the late ’90s, Eddie’s opened a swanky retro steak and chop place with great food, four-star service and a snazzy, well-stocked bar. Many restaurants have come and gone since it was established in 1995, but Eddie Martini’s remains as busy as the day it opened. (D.L.) $$$-$$$$. CC: All major. FB, RS. Handicap access. 771-6680

Erv’s Mug

130 W. Ryan Road

With mirrored beer signs and antique newspapers surrounding guests from the walls and above, Erv’s Mug is a great place to sit at the bar for a drink or to dine with a friend for a quick bite. If you dare, try the buffalo wrap, which is offered in three levels of hotness that is sure set anyone’s taste buds on fire. Specials ranging from fish fries to Mexican food are also offered throughout the week. (H.Y.) $$. CC: MC, VS, AmEX. SB. FF. FB. Handicap access. 762-5010.

The Harp

113 E. Juneau Ave.

The Harp is a classic Milwaukee hangout, city cool and brashly Irish. It excels at beer and burgers, not to mention reasonable prices. And it has one of the city’s best patios, overlooking the Milwaukee River. (S.R.) $. CC: MC, VS, DS. OD, FF, FB. Handicap access. 289-0700

Harry’s Bar & Grill

3549 N. Oakland Ave.

In a casual but attractive setting, Harry’s moderately priced Sunday brunch includes three-egg omelets, crab cakes, eggs Benedict and ginger pancakes. Quesadillas and sandwiches are available for patrons more in the mood for lunch. Brunch aside, Harry’s offers a full menu for dinner as well. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. SB, FF, FB. Handicap access. 964-6800

Historic Turner Restaurant

1034 N. Fourth St.

For many this is still the place for a Friday fish fry with flaky cod and potato pancakes. The 1880s landmark building is comfortable and charming. Sandwiches, salads and light entrees are also available. Turner provides a nice, casual atmosphere. (J.B.) $$. CC: All major. FF, FB. 276-4844

Honeypie Bakery and Café

2643 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Honeypie’s menu is mainly sandwiches plus a few appetizers, entrees and salads. The theme is home-style Midwest cooking. Expect plenty of pork, chicken, turkey and bacon. The pork fries features Honeypie’s fine French fries smothered with pulled pork, bacon and cheese sauce. The davenport is the ultimate open-faced roast turkey sandwich, a mountain of food with horseradish-mashed potatoes. This is true slow cooking, no shortcuts at all. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: All major. Handicap access. 489-7437

Hooligan’s

2017 E. North Ave.

Hooligan’s is an East Side institution with an impressive array of tap beers, from local microbrews to imported treats such as Pilsner Urquell. The kitchen does a great job with the burger selection, including two vegetarian picks and one of lean, healthy ostrich meat. (J.B.) $. CC: MC, VS. FB, OD, FF. 273-5230

Hubbard Park Lodge

3565 N. Morris Blvd.

The walk along a wooded, winding path is almost worth the trip alone. Changes for City Guide online Nestled on the banks of the Milwaukee River, the Hubbard Park Lodge offers a “Lumberjack brunch” on Sundays.. Also open for fish fry on Friday nights. (D.L.) $$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. FF. 332-4207

Kopp’s Custard

7631 W. Layton Ave., 282-4080

5373 N. Port Washington Road, 961-2006

18880 W. Bluemound Road, (262) 789-1393

Kopp’s is a Milwaukee phenomenon worth noting, not just because of its rotating selection of custard flavors or its burgers, but also for its futuristic yet Norman Rockwell-like setting. Whether it’s a root beer float, turtle sundae or chocolate thunder custard, Kopp’s makes an impression for flavor and inventiveness. (C.G.) $. Handicap access.

Ma Fischer’s

2214 N. Farwell Ave.

The East Side’s 24/7 Greek-American restaurant covers everything from standard Greek fare such as gyros and moussaka, to American favorites such as steaks, seafood, sandwiches and pastas. Sandwiches include a bowl of soup, while full meals come with choice of potato and a dessert. Breakfast served any time. (K.N.) $$ CC: Visa, MC. RS, FF, SB. Handicap access. 271-7424

Mason Street Grill

425 E. Mason St.

The new venue at the Pfister Hotel replaces Celia with a more casual setting, a bar room with fireplace, a dining room and a marble counter where patrons are able to watch the chefs at work. The menu includes excellent steaks, solid seafood and a fine onion soup, along with less expensive options such as chicken pot pie, veal stroganoff and a Maine lobster roll. The Mason Street Grill sets standards far above typical hotel fare. (J.B.) $$-$$$$. CC: All major. Handicap access. 298-3131

Motor

400 W. Canal St.

The Harley-Davidson Museum restaurant is as architecturally impressive as the galleries. The dining room and the outdoor terrace boast serene views of the Menomonee River. The menu focuses on Wisconsin and the Midwest, including booyah, a soup thick as a stew and said to originate in Green Bay. Reuben potato pancakes are a creative starter. Entrée are homey fare like mac’n’cheese, meatloaf, pork chops, steak and BBQ ribs. Portions tend to be large. While the museum is recommended, Motor has a setting and food that are worthy of a visit too. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC: All major. RS parties of 8 or more. FB. OD. Handicap access. 287-2778

Mr. B’s: A Bartolotta Steakhouse

17700 W. Capitol Drive

Mr. B takes steak seriously. The servers bring expert knowledge about each cut, whether the 28-ounce porterhouse, the Angus ribeye or, moving beyond beef, the Australian lamb chops. Steaks are prepared over a cherry and hickory fire under iron skillets. (D.L.) $$$$. CC: All major. (262) 790-7005

North Star American Bistro

4515 N. Oakland Ave.

The menu includes crab cakes served over a bed of leaf lettuce with a horseradish vinaigrette and spinach-and-fontina pizza with an abundance of roasted garlic. The flat iron steak offers a good cut of meat at an even better price, while the fine lamb is served in a red wine reduction. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx, DS. SB. Handicap access. 964-4663

Open Flame

5081 S. 108th St.

Although there is a martini menu, don’t expect anything trendy from the kitchen. Go for all-American fare like plump roast chickens or sliced roast pork with real mashed potatoes and gravy. The renovated interior of the former Omega has a clubby feel with dark woodwork and a spacious lounge. The priciest items are chargrilled steaks and chops, but even here there are bargains. It’s a family-friendly place that just happens to serve cocktails. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: All major. Handicap access. 425-5177

Open Hearth

2930 N. 117th St.

“Where can I get a good prime rib?” The answer is the Open Hearth, where ribs range from a juicy medium-rare to a crispy well done. The menu has the supper-club standards of yore, from duck to pork chops and schnitzel. Don’t miss the crispy onion rings. To be in business nearly 30 years, you know they’re doing something right. (J.B.) $$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. FB, FF. Handicap access. 475-0839

Palomino

2491 S. Superior St.

All of the comforts of a South Side corner bar are here, complete with pool tables. The fare tends to be Southern, though vegetarians will find the menu welcoming, too. The best items are chicken-fried steak, BBQ baby back ribs and a definitive Southern-fried chicken. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. FB, OD, FF. 747-1007

Pleasant Valley Inn

9801 W. Dakota St.

Located a bit off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood, Pleasant Valley is a favorite for its traditional American setting and menu. Steaks are of high quality and the pork T-bone is a succulent cut. The big rack of barbecue ribs is only for the most determined diner. Daily specials and soups show creativity. (J.B.) $$$. CC: All major. FB. RS. Handicap access. 321-4321

Range Line Inn

2635 W. Mequon Road

Though surrounded by subdivisions, this vintage 19th-century inn offers quiet, countrified charm. The traditional American menu offers thick steaks, chops and big racks of ribs. Don’t miss the homemade dinner rolls and the fine onion rings. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. FF, FB. (262) 242-0530

Safe House

779 N. Front St.

As themed restaurants go, the Safehouse is bearable and even amusing. With its “secret” location and password entry, the spy-themed bar and restaurant has a reputation for lots of wacky spy antics. So you, too, can demand “shaken not stirred” and wash down that martini with one of the daily “spycials.” (S.R.) $$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. RS, FF, FB. Handicap access. 271-2007

Slim McGinn’s Pub

338 S. First St.

Slim McGinn’s is a classic corner tavern popular for its food. While the beer taps are always busy, others are enjoying the homemade soups and jumbo burgers. Much if the fare is Irish-American: corned beef sandwiches and pot roast in Guinness gravy. The baby back ribs are all-American with a Texas BBQ sauce. The setting is casual and there are options. Daily dinner specials include inexpensive steaks and pan-fried perch. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: All major. FB. OD. Handicap access. 271-7546

Sobelman’s

1900 W. St. Paul Ave.

Sobelman’s serves some of the best burgers in town, at least in part on account of a good bakery. The one-third pounder, cooked on the open grill behind the bar, is a fine accessory for a beer, a shot or even a cocktail. Sobelman’s is a great place to get lost on the way to Potawatomi. (D.L.) $. CC: All major. FF, FB, OD. 931-1919

Sobelman’s Tall Grass Grill

1952 N. Farwell Ave.

The original Sobelman’s Tallgrass is a destination point for its burgers. The ones served at the Tallgrass Grill are even better. The difference? Sobelman’s original hamburger comes from corn-fed beef. Problem? Cows weren’t made to eat corn. Grass is their natural food. Grass-fed remains a bit more expensive, but customers get more for their money—literally. Meatier and bigger because they contain less fat and shrink less, they sit on a perfect country butter roll, with an egg-wash glaze, from Breadsmith. (D.L.) $. CC: All major. 273-4727

Solly’s Grill

4629 N. Port Washington Road

Known for their humungous old-fashioned chocolate banana malts and “Olde Wisconsin Fish Fry”, most of Solly’s menu items are served a la carte and range from burgers (beef or veggie) to the cold chicken salad plate to homemade pie. Save for one table, all seating is at the counter. The most remarkable thing about this restaurant is the friendliness of the staff and customers and the “homey” ambiance. (K.N.) CC: All major. Handicap access. 332-8808

Stack’d

170 S. Water St.

Stack’d bills itself as a burger bar but the feel is more like a lounge in a setting of rustbelt chic. Burgers are the specialty. A decent mac’n cheese is another option. Some appetizers arrive in tall stacks like the loaded potatoes and the great thick-cut onion rings. This is a nice setting for a glass of wine or one of the well-chosen beers. Plus there are milkshakes. Try a chocolate truffle alcohol-free or spiked. Prices are moderate. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. OD. FB. Handicap access. 273-7800

Swinging Door

219 E. Michigan St.

Located in the historic Grain Exchange Building, the Door focuses on casual lunches with decent homemade soups, sandwiches and a Saturday brunch. Friday fish fry features battered cod, pan-fried lake perch and even crab cakes—best with the potato pancakes. On the lighter side you’ll find a good cheese quesadilla and entree-sized salads. This is a good downtown hideout for a quick lunch, a beer and maybe a cigarette. (J.B.) $$. CC: All major. FB, FF. Handicap access. 276-8150

The Tracks

1020 E. Locust St.

During the summertime, 140 co-ed volleyball teams tear up an outdoor sand court. But even if it’s not warm outside, the food served inside is worth a visit. Fish specials are offered on Wednesday and Friday, and daily lunch specials run the gamut from meat loaf to ribs. Always on the menu are salads, burgers and sandwiches. (K.H.) $. CC: All major. 562-2020

Victor’s

1230 N. Van Buren St.

Though Victor’s is better known as a singles spot, dinners are served before 9:30 p.m. The menu is typical supper-club fare with steaks, lobster, chops and crab legs. Portions are generous, including the Friday fish fry and weekend prime rib specials. The lights are bright and the volume a bit high, but the food quality more than compensates. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC: All major. FF, FB. 272-2522

Water Street Brewery

1101 N. Water St.

It’s one of Milwaukee’s most successful brew pubs since opening in the ’80s, but the crowds also come for hearty sandwiches and brimming platters of nachos. Crowded at lunch. Packed on weekends. (D.L.) $$. CC: All major. FF, RS, FB, OD. 272-1195

What’s Fresh

146 E. Juneau Ave.

Dash in for a pastry and coffee on your way to work in Downtown Milwaukee or run over during lunch hour for a freshly made sandwich. During the warm season, What’s Fresh sets tables on the sidewalk for that Chicago Loop dining experience. (D.L.) $. CC: Not accepted. OD. 273-5677

The Wicked Hop

345 N. Broadway

One of the noisy hubs of the Third Ward, the Wicked Hop is a comfortable corner bar making good use of its historic Cream City brick shell. Usually crowded at lunch and after work, the Hop serves quality bar food—chicken wings and wraps, burgers and melts, quesadillas and excellent nachos smothered in cheddar and jalapenos. On tap is a good selection of Wisconsin and imported beers. (D.L.) $. CC: All major. FB, OD, FF. Handicap access. 223-0345